back to article West Country pagans tie horses in knots

Police are investigating the possibility that pagans are behind a "bizarre outbreak of horse mane weaving" in Devon, Dorset and Somerset, the Western Morning News reports. Some 20 equines have been found with plaits in their manes, and while the initial suspicion was that they were being marked for theft by horse-rustling …


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  1. Code Monkey

    Only one way to find out

    Time to dust off that ducking stool!

  2. Deckchair

    is required

    Police Puzzled in Pagan Pony Plaiting Palaver

  3. Lawrence 7

    Jeff Howley better watch himself

    They'll be platting his hair next and burning him in massive clotted cream scone made of of Wicker whilst lord Somerset explains that it was the horseplay, and that he was the horse whilst girls of a dubious age dance naked over a cowpat.

    Has he not seen what happened to his counterpart north of the borders? Leave these things well alone Jeff!

    1. robhogg
      IT Angle

      Slow news day?

      Or the duck!

      "Peasant 1: If she weighed the same as a duck... she's made of wood.

      Sir Bedevere: And therefore...

      Peasant 2: ...A witch! "

    2. MinionZero

      Police Proclamation: Police Poised in Preparation!

      Police Prepare to Pounce on Poncey Perissodactyla Pester Preparing to Prosecute People of the Pagan Persuasion to Purge Pony Pandering.

      1. TimeMaster T


        One of you owes me for a keyboard, who gets the bill?

        The monitor needed to be cleaned anyway, though how good chocolate milk is at removing various smudges is unknown.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    'Ere there be witchcraft!

    This pagan/witch cack always reminds me of George Carlin's great quote, "20% of Americans believe in angels. What are you, fucking stupid or something? Fucking angels!"

  5. Cameron Colley

    It's aliens!!!

    They're bored of making pretty patterns in fields, so now they're turning their hands to horse hairdressing. Or, perhaps, they're planning on abducting people and plaiting their hair, but thought they'd practice on a more intelligent species first.

    Or, it might just be "pranksters" or is that too boring to consider?

  6. Mark 62

    My first thought

    Was prepubescent girls who wanted to make the horses look "pretty".

    1. jake Silver badge

      @Mark 62

      That's what it always is around this barn, when manes and tails start getting inappropriate braids/plaits ... My wife teaches the youngsters who are interested how to do proper pulling, braiding/plaiting, banding and (rarely) roaching(hogging in the UK(?? I think, it's been a while ...)), according to the tradition of whatever bit of horsemanship they are learning (we are a multiple discipline barn; if it's about horses, we do it ... Western vs. English fanbois & fangrrls are shown the door.

      But no, it happened in Devon. It must be pagans and/or witches ... Idiots.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    "Jenny Parsons, secretary of the Taunton Vale Harriers Hunt, said "... if these are children's ponies it is an absolutely awful thing to do."

    Awful?? Surely taking children hunting and then smearing their clothes and face with the bloody remains of a fox - in the hunting ritual of blooding - is awful in comparison to a few knots in a horses mane?? And don't tell me that hunting is illegal now and it's all stopped, as there are enough reports of fox kills by hunts with hounds still going on.

  8. TeeCee Gold badge

    It's the weather.

    Quite obviously the inclement weather is interfering with stock deliveries to local retailers, causing a massive shortage of "My Little Pony" products in the local Toy Shops.

    Distraught little girls are resorting to the next best thing to ease their withdrawal symptoms. They'll be painting the buggers pink and stencilling glittery stars on them next, mark my words.

  9. breakfast

    Thats right, blame the pagans

    Well quite often my horse comes in with his mane twisted and knotted in the most arcane ways and that's just from rolling.

    A scare story about horse rustlers has recently been going around the equestrian community, where they are plaiting up horse's manes to mark them for later theft. Now maybe that was happening and maybe it wasn't, but I bet a lot of horse owners are now looking for plaits and knots in their horses' manes and likely to interpret them as man-made even if they aren't.

    Or maybe the thieves realised people were getting wise and just set about getting everyone they knew doing plaits in horses manes to spread confusion.

    I don't think we need to be blaming the pagans at any rate. They always get blamed for odd stuff and then you actually talk to someone who understands pagan practice at all and their response is typically "What? Why would we do that?"

    From my understanding of what causes plaits to appear in horse's manes I would suggest the police should be focussing their enquiries on pony-obsessed girls.

  10. Jacqui


    **this* is the only terrorist "giveuscash" FUD the devon plod can come up with?

    I thought police were supposed to investigate - not publicise theories blaming events on a specific religions. I suppose it is budget time again and they need a scapegoat to ensure they get more moolah from the limited budget. I wonder who had the bright idea to demonise a (to the plod) "unpopular" religion.

    Lets try this another way. If the police has said they belived that a bunch of muslims were responsible because of some ancient long forgotten dooberry the newspapers would be up in arms and the plod would be apologising to the national police force rep and any local or national honco that came out of the woodwork.

    The fact that most pagans are quiet unassuming folks means the police can get away with this utter crap.

    Before anyone asks, I am an athiest IMHO all religions are populated with nutters who need time off on in straighjacket and strong drugs. Saying this of all the religious folks I have met only the pagans (and church of the FSM!) come over as having any common sense whatsoever.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. c#live

      curry munching hippie??

      Nutter, please!

  12. sig

    At least someone's thinking of the children

    "if these are children's ponies it is an absolutely awful thing to do"

  13. Anonymous Coward


    "PC Jeff Howley, neighbourhood beat manager"

    WTF is a "neighbourhood beat manager"? Don't they have beat coppers any more? Or is this a case of improve the job title and pay less?

    And is plaiting the mane of a horse belonging to some one else actually a crime? I mean a real crime not like being in public with an offensive wife.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Won't Somebody Think of the Children?

    I love the way that somebody has tried a "think of the children" on this one.

    It's probably a joke like flashmobs are. And if it is a pagan ritual, it's probably meant to end the snow or improve the economy or something.

    Still, it's good to know that they have so little crime in that area that the police can spend their time worrying about horse mane plaiting.

  15. LinkOfHyrule
    Thumb Up

    I love the types of crime stories from the Cornwall, Devon area

    Horse Knots, Men who get jiggy in horse s**t, giant wild beasts roaming the moors! Truly magical!

    May I be the first to welcome our Horse god overlords!

    p.s. I liked the IT angle in this story, mentioning a possible link to social networking sites

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Social networking

      That'll be 'Facelikeahorsesarsebook'

      1. Baskitcaise

        Social networking

        shirley that should be: Social knotworking.

    2. JohnG Silver badge

      Neighbourhood beat manager

      Neighbourhood beat manager = he has restricted his intake of jam and cream scones* to a level whereby he can still manage to walk around his neighbourhood beat.

      * For our transatlantic cousins: scones with jam and cream are a local Devon delicacy and are nicer than doughnuts.

  16. Robin Bradshaw

    Wooohooo witch hunt!!! :)

    I blame my little pony for teaching young impressionable minds that the way to make a pony pretty is to plait its mane, I suggest we put forth a bill to ban the sale of my little pony immediately, and for good measure we should round up all women with plaited hair as they are obviously in league with the devil!!!!

    Do they really have so little crime down there that they have to make crimes up?

  17. Jay Castle

    Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the gene pool....

    "It is possible it's a pagan ritual and I have had reports of a change in horse behaviour, so if these are children's ponies it is an absolutely awful thing to do."

    Fucking moron........

  18. Peter Simpson 1

    Police in the West Country

    Nothing else to do? Criminals all moved on? Horse mane plaiting the new "main" concern in that area?

    //maybe time for a few redundancies in the Police?

  19. Anonymous Coward


    I came downstairs this morning and someone had tied knots in the hair on my dogs tail. Please please someone forward me the Witchfinder General's email address.

  20. Richard IV

    Alternate theory

    "To start with we thought they were being marked for theft but that is clearly not the case."

    Maybe they were: "Don't nick this one, that's the sheriff's gal"

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Not afraid of wasting police time?

    Who calls the police because they found someone had braided their horse's hair? I could understand if it were their own hair, but a horse's? FFS!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is Devon after all! What else is there to down there, have you met the people from there?

    I once met an educated woman that moved from London to Devon, I asked her "What do you think of the people down there?", she replied "They lack ambition". Others have described them "harmless".

    They're not the most intelligent of people.....

    Oh I hear cries of can I be so rude to the people of Devon?

    Because I is one..that's why... I escaped..I left to go to University, which believe me, in those days was extremely rare. I was poked fun of at school for being intelligent.

    The folk are simple minded. Great place to grow up until you're about 16, but after that, it's boring place.

  23. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Sensitive animals

    Horses and ponies are easily frightened. Having a strange human waking them at night and doing things to their mane would upset them, before you even consider demonic animal possession and video for the Dutch market and so forth. I think counselling is called for. And also revive "Operation Terry and June".

    Someone's up to something iffy over there.

  24. Francis Boyle Silver badge


    I was hoping the IT angle would be that the perps were using the latest iPhone app iKnotMagick (works even better on an iSlate - those knots can be tricky) but instead all we get is some lame social networking reference. Must try harder el Reg.

  25. DeliberatusFreeman

    WTF w/cherry on top

    JESUS H. CHRIST on a bloody pogo stick. mane weaving is it, my bleeding piles... check for toupee presence. check for sanity. check for slow week. check for med's levels. but don;'t do this shit on the public penny. As a hobby, go for it.


  26. lukewarmdog


    And to think, the government wants me to pay 50p PER LANDLINE to give these people the Internet. They get all the news they can handle already from their alphabeti spaghetti.

    I liked the "IF" it's kids ponies. What if it's not. She didn't even check? Reminds me of Brass Eye Cake. Checking your information before going on record with an opinion is highly recommended.

    As for making them pretty - it's called dressage and is apparently quite classy, not "an awful thing" at all.

    As for marking horses by braiding their tails. Yeah cos in the dark you are going to go "eh john.. is this a braid? no never mind, it was just a rather complicated burr, I combed it out"

    If you're going to steal horses in the dark, some kind of UV marking would a better idea.

  27. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Dissapointed

    Get knotted, Francis. (Do you see what I did there DO YOU SEE.)

    Also, you can't spell 'disappointed' and so your right to criticise or otherwise carp is hereby suspended for the rest of the week.

  28. captain kangaroo

    Alt Headline...

    Pesky Pagans Platting Ponies Perterbs Plod

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: Re: Dissapointed

      Wow, was that a diss appointed?

  29. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I'm reminded of Slipknot

    ...a deliberately unpleasant pop music band, whose fans were taken aback to find that the principal "Slipknot" web site was actually about crochetcraft and the like.

  30. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  31. Jemma Silver badge

    March of the Retards....

    Here we go again....

    1. A horse is the dumbest animal this side of the domestic chicken...

    2. Horses have hooves

    3. Horses tend to use said hooves on people they dont know

    4. Pagans tend to know more about animals than any other person

    5. ergo, pagans have enough of a clue to know that fiddling with bits of a strange horse tends to = a kick in the proverbials - and whether you have an innie or an outie - a horses hoof in the groin = HURTIE

    Some of the commentards on here might want to consult their lawyers too - re the 'ducking stool' and other pleasant comments, you wouldnt call a black girl a nigger to her face so why do you think its OK to be abusive to Pagans? ... oh silly me - computer engineers with no social skills who live with their mum at the age of 40... By the letter of the law in the UK thats verbal religious harassment... a word to the wise from the wise, Sarah Bee

    When will people learn that if it involves harming, annoying, pestering or otherwise doing distasteful things to creatures of the 4-legged variety the people who you can guarantee wont be involved are pagans...

    Its most likely some chavtards who have only seen a horse on TV and assume that they are big cuddly things that get in the way of Jeremy Redneckson ...

    They can weigh upwards of a ton - have teeth and hooves - and in alot of cases are pure rabid death to anyone other than their owners (and sometimes their owners too). Only an idiot would go creeping round a field in the pitch black and expect to come home with their testicles in the same county...

    While I have met pagan groups that have more flakes than a cadburys factory, pagans are almost universally intelligent people with a good understanding of reality - then you have the police who blame them all the time for things like this, who tend to be the school yard bullies who got kicked out of the SS training course for unneccessary brutality and stupidity unbecoming and who seem to enjoy strip searching 11 year old kids... guess whose side I take on this one?

    @ AC 15:53 - tis good for you that you are anonymous, because for that comment I could have you in a UK magistrates court... be told.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paganism endures

    it is found in a lot of modern day entertainment, in fact it could be seen as the corner stone of entertainment, and it is always been about myths and story telling.

    The Celtic Gods and Goddesses weren't personifications they were instead more represented in the corporeal state as being elements of nature, a river, glade, or grove, Oak and Yew trees were an important part of Celtic mythology.

    When the Celts sacked the Temples at Delphi they would have been quite bemused or amused by the personification of the Greek Gods, it was just accepted that Gods could take any form they wished, and we see that in elements of Greek Mythology anyhow. The Celtic Kings were wed to the land, and their responsibility would be to ensure good harvests and the protection of the land for the people, fascinating stuff.

    There is also an interesting mushroom, called the Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria), and it is often associated with witchcraft and sorcery, as the effect is to create a spell binding hypnotic suggestible state in those who consume it. The water into wine story is often attributed to Fly Agaric, where Jesus just effectively hypnotised people into believing the water was wine.

    And, there are other instances surrounding witch trials where psychedelics occurred in grain that lead people to believe that witchcraft was afoot in the village. The truth is a lot of witch craft is what we now consider chemistry and biology, a lot of science has come from Paganism. Spirituality and the magic in that realm is hard to prove or disprove.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And I used to hang around with Pagans in my years at University, they were a bit of a weird bunch, the educated ones studied useless subjects such as English language, the others, gee, what a waste of space..long haired hippies, looked terrible, all mixed in with the goths, performing naked rituals, and white if it really worked..

    They were nearly all arty types, tended to be very cliquey. Many grow out of it by their mid twenties, those that are still into it in their 30's.....stay clear of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ahhh Bless

      you just wanted to join in the naked rituals, but the cliquey lot didn't want you in their gang :)

      Is English Language actually taught in University, normally it is English Literature.

    2. jake Silver badge


      I have a barn full of properly trained, sane horses that anyone, even frothing, angry loons like you appear to be, can walk up to, at night, unannounced[1]. They will even drop their heads low enough for a 5-year-old to put on a bridle. My insurance company likes it that way. So do the parents of the kids who are taking riding lessons from us ... Good lesson horses are worth their weight in gold. These aren't tired old plugs, either ... most of 'em will happily clear 5 feet. My Wife's old show jumper can clear 6'6" paddock fencing[2], I had to put up 8' of no-climb ... and she started eyeballing that, until I ran some hot-wire above it![3]

      Now, I wouldn't recommend anyone other than myself, my wife or the foreman walking into the top 70, where the broodmares and their babies hang out during the day ... Not even the hands go into that field, until it's time to bring 'em in for the night ...

      [1] If you can get past me or the dawgs, that is ;-)

      [2] We had just arrived from a three week road-trip; she couldn't wait to greet my wife!

      [3] Only hot-wire on the ranch ... normally I can't abide the stuff ...

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  34. Joe User

    Superstitious twaddle

    "It is possible it's a pagan ritual and I have had reports of a change in horse behaviour, so if these are children's ponies it is an absolutely awful thing to do."

    If your horse turns its head around backwards and projectile-vomits pea soup at you from across the stall, then you have a legitimate concern.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @Joe User

      More legitimate than you might think ... horses can't puke. They don't have the mechanism for it.

  35. Stewart Haywood

    D@mn those Andromedans....... send them out to make a few crop circles and they get the wrong sort of crop and end up frightening horses. Last week another lot of them got it wrong and twisted the heads off a bunch of chickens.

  36. stizzleswick

    So does this mean that...

    ...the people preparing horses for shows and competitions are all pagans? I do remember seeing most horses at all sorts of competitions with their manes in braids and stuff...

  37. Asylum Sam

    OOOO fear the pagans!!

    It wos the pagans wot did it, break out the faggots and lets get a'burning.

    Stupid sod, he must be a christian, they're trained to be anti pagan, and they're far more scary. (I know a few pagans, my mum n dad are pagan, and I guarantee they have never plaited a horse)


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